Crown The Empire 29.09.18 / Louder Live
The evening starts with Coldrain bringing Japanese metalcore, and plenty of energy, to the crowd. A handful of people sing along to fan favourites such as ‘ENVY’, but it isn’t just dedicated Coldrain fans who feel the excitement. With ten years of touring experience under their belt, including supporting the likes of Bullet For My Valentine, it’s very clear that these guys know how to hype up a crowd, and a relatively small room in Manchester Academy transcends into something much bigger. A surprising majority of the audience join – and keep up – the clapping introduction to ‘GONE’. Every member of the band exude both confidence and gratitude towards a captivated audience, refreshing to see so early in a show.
Fans are just about able to catch their breath before Californian Volumes tear up the venue with their upbeat djent, complete with two vocalists and some very passionate fans. It’s reminiscent of an Attila set, with vocalist Gus Farias even talking about Chris Fronzak mid set, and the energy in the room reflects this. Pits are constant and aggressive, and fans near the front rush to take pictures with Farias as he mingles with the crowd whilst performing towards the end of the set. Much like Coldrain, this band can hold a crowd. The heavy ‘Waves Control’ ensures the room is still awake in the middle of the set, and the penultimate song, ‘Feels Good’, has a catchy melodic hook that feels almost cathartic amongst all the madness.
As the crowd wait for the headliners, it becomes evident that the old emo favourites still have some very passionate fans. Fights break out as people push to the front, and, once the Texan foursome arrive onstage, excited screams ring out. ‘SK-68’, the atmospheric introduction to their 2016 space-themed album ‘Retrograde’, ensures the fans are ready before Crown The Empire begin their set with ‘Are You Coming With Me’. A punchy track, this never fails as an opener for Crown, and tonight is no exception. The next song on the album ‘Zero’, follows, continuing the space theme and allows guitarist Brandon Hoover to showcase the catchy riff heard throughout the song.
The heavier, chugging parts appear afterwards in older material as the band launch into older music starting with ‘Memories Of A Broken Heart’, and moving onto the oldest song in their set ‘Voices’. Having released this before Dave Escamilla (ex-vocals, ex-rhythm guitar) joined the band, they have no issue playing this effortlessly, helped by the excitable crowd who pit and sing along whilst Hoover and Hayden Tree (bass) continue to handle many of the unclean vocal parts. The lyrics in these songs are heavier, with Crown having been very theatrical in their first few releases; records came in the form of concept albums, following an apocalyptic love story, so when ‘Johnny Ringo’, the first in a series of three songs about a character of that name, plays, fans can’t contain themselves. Velasquez’s soft, creepy vocals accompany a piano part followed by an anthemic track which is not lost on the pitters as they scream along ‘Don’t ever trust the devil, bitch!’ and enjoy a heavy breakdown.
When everybody’s tired and sufficiently creeped out, the time comes to try out their new singles ‘20/20’ and ‘what i am’ from their upcoming album (name TBA), the bouncy space atmosphere returning as guitars get softer and lyrical content involves the sun, satellites, rising pressure, etc. Younger fans have memorised the lyrics since the singles arrived in July and September, and they follow up with ‘Retrograde’ single ‘Hologram’ before coming back to old material.
As per tradition, Andrew Velasquez (vocals) plans to get drunk in the UK, and is surprised when more than a few fans send shots to the stage. By the end of the slow singalong track ‘Millennia’ he is lying on the floor, and the band join dramatically, then power into old favourite ‘The Fallout’. The set has been full of these light-hearted moments, but nothing quite compares to the encore. Perhaps the heaviest song in the band’s back catalogue, ‘Initiation’ provokes pitters to let of their last bits of steam before the pit is dramatically transformed into a mass of passionate fans singing ‘Machines’ alongside Velasquez’s soaring vocals. As the song forms part of the concept album ‘The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways’, the lyrics are centred around just that. Lines such as ‘If all we are is just machines, then we must be the cogs inside the wheels of change’ ring out, any tension evaporating as they connect the crowd.
Check out the video for '20/20' here: